Haridwar (हरिद्वार), also spelled Hardwar, is a city in the state of Uttarakhand. Haridwar, literally Gateway to God, is one of the Hindu holy places in India and a center of Hindu religion and mysticism for centuries. Located on the banks of River Ganges (Ganga), at the point where the Ganges descends from the hills to the North Indian plains, Haridwar attracts a large number of Hindu pilgrims from all over the world.
Haridwar is the site of many religious festivals. Most notably, once every twelve years it is the venue for the Kumbh Mela, humanity’s largest festival, which drew a record 70 million in 2003. (The festival rotates between Haridwar and Allahabad, Ujjain and Nashik.) The Ardh Mela, or “half mela”, is held every six years. Both will be held in Haridwar for the next time in 2010.
Other yearly festivals include:
- Baisakhi, April.
- Kanwar Mela, July. The largest yearly festival, drawing up to 300,000 visitors.
- Somwati Amavasya, July. Almost as large as the Kanwar Mela.
- Kartik Purnima, held 15 days after Diwali on the first night of the full moon in November.
See the Haridwar city website for a complete listing. While the festivals are colorful and fascinating, they also strain the town’s limited infrastructure to the breaking point and sometimes beyond. Book rooms and tickets well in advance, and avoid travel by road as the traffic jams can be horrendous.
Get inHaridwar is about 200 kms from Delhi, the capital of India and is well connected by road and rail network from all parts of India. It is better to avoid travelling to Haridwar during the hindu month of sawan (around july) since there is a heavy crowd and all important roads are blocked and most of the hotels/busses/trains are crowded.
Dehradun’s Jolly Grant airport, with twice daily service to Delhi on Air Deccan , is 20 km from Haridwar.
Haridwar Junction (IR station code : HW) is well-connected by train. The railway station is located on the south side of the town, within walking distance of most hotels.
Haridwar’s bus station, a stone’s throw from the train station, is chaotic and has no signage whatsoever in English. There are regular bus services from Delhi (4-5 hours), Rishikesh (1 hour) and other important towns of North India to Haridwar. Though they claim they reach New Delhi in 4-5 hours they take at least 6-7 hours. Due to the traffic jams in the roads leading in and out of Delhi it can even take 7-8 hours. Before booking the bus check the bus condition. Always go for cushioned and push-back seats. The long and bumpy ride will take a toll on your mood and body.
Central Haridwar can be reasonably comfortably covered on foot. Cyclerickshaws abound, and most trips in town should not cost more than Rs. 20. Taxis and autorickshaws congregate at the train and bus stations.
- Hari-ki-Pairi (or Har-ki-Pairi). To the north of the center, this is Haridwar’s focal point, where devotees gather to bathe and worship on the Ganges. According to legend, this is where a drop of nectar fell from the churning of the oceans when the world was created, and a stone wall has Vishnu’s footprint. Each evening around 7 PM, thousands gather and worship the river Goddess by putting diyas (floating lamps) in the river. You may be asked to make a donation if you linger near the ghats. Beware of con artists posing as officials. If you would like to make a donation there are boxes at the center of the ghats around the light poles.
- Maya Devi Mandir , located on upper road. This temple is one of the 51 “shakti peeths” and its the presiding deity of Haridwar. It is from this temple Haridwar derives its other name Mayapur.
- Mansa Devi Mandir, atop a hill near the center of town. Can be reached by cable car (Rs 48 for a return ticket) or by a road that gently winds uphill (about 2 km), starting from Railway Rd. The temple is aesthetically not particularly noteworthy, but the views are grand. Expect to queue to board the cable car and once more to enter the temple: despite some rudimentary attempts at crowd control, the crowds of jostling devotees can make this a pretty intense experience.
- Bharat Mata Mandir, 5 km north of the center. Dedicated to Mother India, this is half temple, half nation building exercise, with seven floors stacked with deities, saints, and secular heroes of all Indian faiths. Some signage in English.
- Chandidevi Mandir,8-9KM from railway station, you get the combi package to see both the temples by AC bus including bus and ropeway charges
- Daksh mandir,7-8 km from railway station,you get rickshaw or you can hire a auto,near also many mandirs to see at kankhal.
- Bilkeshwar Mahadev Mandir , Shiva temple located on a hill.
- Vaishno Devi Mandir
- Ma Anandamayee Ashram, Located at Kankhal. The samadhi of Shree Shree Ma Anandamayee is located here and is also the Head Office of the revered organisation. It is a must see. Devotees included late Mrs Indira Gandhi (ex Prime Minister of India). Attend the evening aarti near Ma’s samadhi and have a soul cleansing experience.
- Divya Yog Mandir Trust University, 16 km from Haridvar. Founded by Baba Ramdev.
Haridwar, the holy city is one of the most renowned pilgrimage centers in India. Pilgrims from all over the world flock to this sacred city to take a dip in the holy waters of River Ganga.Being a destination for pilgrimage tourism, shopping in Haridwar is not on the itinerary of the tourist.
However shops in Haridwar have some interesting things to offer to the tourist. The main shopping centers are Moti bazaar, Upper Road, Jwalapur and Kankhal. You can also check out the Government Handloom and Handicrafts Emporiums and the Gandhi Ashram. Here you will find a range of handicraft decorative pieces. If you are interested in jewellery, then you can choose from a variety of imitation ones which make good fashion accessory.
In Haridwar, you will find neatly and intricately carved stone idols, which make unique souvenirs. It is fascinating that these stones have traversed with Ganga all along and they are eventually deposited in Rishikesh as the river enters the plains. This gives the stones amazing shapes and a natural polish. Besides idols, there are kitchen set toys made from stone, which are interesting buys.